By DJ Ramirez | Sports Writer
The Baylor baseball team opened the 2019 season with a 12-0 shutout of the Holy Cross Crusaders Friday night at Baylor Ballpark.
Junior right-handed pitcher Hayden Kettler was named player of the game after pitching seven scoreless innings and striking out eight batters. Kettler made the Friday night start in place of junior left-hander Cody Bradford who will pitch in game two of the doubleheader on Saturday. Kettler said he was excited to have the start.
“It’s everybody’s dream to go out there and pitch on opening day, you never know if you’ll ever be able to do it again,” Kettler said. “I didn’t want to take it for granted, just wanted to go out there and have fun and let everybody work. That’s exactly what we did, and it worked out just fine.”
Kettler threw 87 pitches on the night and was able to get ahead of hitters early. He allowed only four hits and had one walk. Head coach Steve Rodriguez said he expected Kettler to go deep into the game.
“It’s not surprising to me. He’s really good to be able to do that and I’m really happy that he was able to make that jump,” Rodriguez said. “We wanted to extend him a little bit to get his pitch count up just because we need to continue to build these guys up a little bit. … He’s a junior now and it’s his time to do that stuff.”
Junior third baseman Davis Wendzel put the Bears on the board with an RBI single hit over the third baseman to score senior center fielder Richard Cunningham who had gotten on base with a hit to right field. Sophomore shortstop Nick Loftin scored the second run of the game on a fielder’s choice single by sophomore right fielder Davion Downey.
Baylor came back in the third inning to add three more to their lead. Wendzel walked and Downey was hit by a pitch to get on base. Haring reached on a throwing error which scored Wendzel. Downey scored and Haring advanced on a passed ball and then Holy Cross loaded the bases by walking junior first baseman Mack Mueller. Senior second baseman Josh Bissonette reached on a fielding error by Holy Cross senior second baseman Alex Gionis which allowed Haring to score.
In the fourth, Wendzel doubled to left field to bring in Cunningham and advancing Loftin, then Loftin scored on a wild pitch. Crusaders sophomore reliever Kyle Johnson balked to score Wendzel and advance Downey to second after he was hit by a pitch for the second time.
The Bears added four more runs in the sixth inning and held the game scoreless for the rest of the night.
Baylor had nine hits to score 12 runs. Wendzel stepped up against the Crusaders with three hits, three runs and two runs batted in. According to Wendzel, it was all about taking advantage of the anxiousness of opening day.
“I was definitely seeing the ball well and I know opening day some people are going to make some mistakes and they made some mistakes and I took advantage of them,” Wendzel said.
Sophomore right-hander William Gilbert got the save, his first as a Bear. Gilbert took the mound in the ninth and recorded two strikeouts after which Gionis grounded out to Wendzel, who moved to shortstop, to end the game. Rodriguez said Gilbert earned his spot and that he’s excited about what he has brought to the bullpen.
Baylor will continue the series against Holy Cross with a doubleheader beginning at 1:05 p.m. on Saturday.